This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Census 2020 Redistricting Battle Already Heating Up

The U.S. Constitution requires that Congressional seats be redistributed and district boundaries redrawn after each decennial census--thus providing the constitutional basis for the census itself. The work of redistricting is done by individual state legislatures or their designees (e.g., the independent commission approved by voters in California a few years ago). After the 2010 census, the Republican Party spent a great deal of time and effort influencing state legislators to draw boundaries that created "safe" seats for a disproportionate share of Republican members of Congress. With Republicans now in control of all branches of government, the Democratic Party is getting ready to wage its own war on redistricting, as the NYTimes reported today.
Thwarted for much of his term by a confrontational Republican Congress, and criticized by his fellow Democrats for not devoting sufficient attention to their down-ballot candidates, Mr. Obama has decided to make the byzantine process of legislative redistricting a central political priority in his first years after the presidency.
Emerging as Mr. Obama’s chief collaborator and proxy is Eric H. Holder Jr., the former attorney general of the United States and a personal friend of the president. He has signed on to lead the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, a newly formed political group aimed at untangling the creatively drawn districts that have helped cement the Republican Party in power in Washington and many state capitals.
Democrats ruefully acknowledge now that before the 2010 census, riding high after Mr. Obama’s 2008 victory and seemingly secure in their hold on Congress, they were far less prepared than Republicans in gearing up for legislative reapportionment. The Republican Party mounted a ferocious state-by-state campaign that gave it overwhelming control of redistricting, allowing it to lock in many victories in the 2010 midterm elections.
So, the plan is to gear up for the fight that will take place once the 2020 census results are made available near the end of the year in 2020, "but the officials drawing the maps in most states will be chosen in elections well before then, starting with the election for governor in Virginia this year." Thus the urgency to get started now so that Democrats instead of Republicans are in place in as many states as possible in order to influence the redistricting process. This will be ugly, I can assure you.

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